Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

Mindfulness of Breathing

Sit : Love : Give

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What’s next?

tingshaWe’ve already suggested that you need to keep on practicing the Mindfulness of Breathing. Meditation isn’t something that you can do once and see lasting benefits. It’s something you have to do regularly in order to bring about the development of new habits.

We’ve also suggested that it’s a good idea to alternate the Mindfulness of Breathing meditation with the Metta Bhavana (or development of lovingkindness) practice. The two practices complement each other beautifully.

The four stages you’ve learned — (1) Counting after the out-breath, (2) Counting before the in-breath, (3) Dropping the counting and following the sensations of the breathing as a continuous, unbroken process, and (4) Focusing on the sensations at the rims of the nostrils — can be regarded as tools. As with any tools, they have to be used intelligently. At first, as an exercise in learning to develop familiarity with the tools, I’d suggest that you stick to doing all four of the stages in order, giving equal time to each stage. You might want to keep this up for several months of practice, or perhaps a year or so.

Thereafter, you can work on applying the tools. The first stage (counting after the out-breath) helps calm the mind. So if your mind is already calm, or if you’re sleepy, then you might want to skip this stage. The second stage stimulates alertness, so if your mind is already over-stimulated you might want to skip that stage, and stick with the first stage in order to slow your mind down.

If you find that your mind settles quickly and that you’re already alert and mindful, you might want to skip both of the first two stages and go straight into the third, or even four stage. If you find, during one of the later stages, that you’re all over the place, then you might want to go back to one of the earlier stages.

I’ve been meditating for 30 years, and I still use the counting on certain days when my mind is unruly, although these days I’m more likely to start with the third stage of the practice, or even the fourth. But the tools are there, and I’m happy to use them as seems appropriate. We call this, making the practice your own.

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Comments

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Comment from rajvardhan
Time: August 23, 2008, 5:01 am

thanx to guide me, really thankful to u…………….

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Comment from David
Time: April 8, 2009, 5:24 am

What a lovely site, what clear and useful advice.

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Comment from Theo
Time: March 23, 2011, 10:37 pm

I have found your site very useful and encouraging. For the first time i have been able to make meditation a meaningful part of my daily routine. thanks

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Comment from Jason
Time: February 16, 2012, 8:02 pm

Hi there. I have to say that I have found your guidance to be VERY helpful. Over the past few weeks I have been working my way through the stages of mindfulness mediation. Now that I am working on stage four I have one question: Should I continue to include the counting stages 1 & 2 in my practice once I feel that I have become proficient in stages 3 & 4? Do you still include them in your practice? Thanks again.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 17, 2012, 10:40 am

Thanks, Jason. It’s good to know that what we do here is helpful. Your questions are very good, and I realize I should have included that information in the online guidance, so I’ve added a couple of paragraphs to this page. I think this should cover your questions, but if you have any follow-up queries, just let me know.

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Comment from Jason
Time: February 17, 2012, 2:11 pm

That’s great, thank you so much.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 17, 2012, 2:12 pm

Well, thank you! It’s good to have questions like this.

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Comment from John
Time: August 3, 2012, 5:54 pm

The instructions for your meditation are really helpful and helped pinpoint some ambiguities I was having. Thank you very much.

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Comment from banesh
Time: February 25, 2013, 9:12 am

Hello Bodhipaksha,

I have some anxiety and I am absent minded thinking of something or I will be talking to people who I know in my mind most of the time. I am meditating from many years, but my meditation was not effective because I was getting distracted and getting involved in those thoughts. I am doing some yoga poses and breathing now before I start meditation. This is helping me to focus on my breath during meditation with lesser distractions. My question is how much duration of meditation every day you recommend so that I am more present or aware during the day. Another question is practising the four stages is it enough for bieng present or I have to try something else like mindful awareness of sensations/emotions or anything else you would like to recommend me. I am also interested to be aware of my breath throughout the day while doing my work or tasks. I think this will keep me alert and make me more focussed/productive throughout the day. I think this is possible with practise. What is your opinion. How many months of practise I would need to master always bieng aware of breath while doing my day to day work or other activities.

Your site is helping me a lot,
thanks for maintaining a wonderful site,
rgds,
banesh

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 25, 2013, 2:28 pm

Hi, Banesh.

I wrote a new page about how long we should meditate for. The short answer is, it depends? :)

The question about other practices is actually answered on this page.

And I’d suggest not thinking in terms of there being a length of time after which you’ll have mastered the practices. Our mastery keeps increasing, and we can keep exploring one practice forever.

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